Life on Earth may have begun on Mars

New theory focuses on role of an oxidized element called molybdenum

Credit: Image credit: Flickr/nukeit1

Maybe I've had it backwards, what with all my skepticism about humans trying to permanently settle on Mars sometime in the next decade. I've argued that humans aren't meant to live on the harsh Red Planet. Now it turns out that such a journey from Earth could actually be a homecoming. Potentially fatal, but still a homecoming. That's because there's new evidence supporting the long-debated theory that Mars planted the seeds of life on Earth. According to the European Association of Geochemistry:

Professor Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology will tell geochemists gathering August 29 at the annual Goldschmidt conference in Florence, Italy, that an oxidized mineral form of the element molybdenum, which may have been crucial to the origin of life, could only have been available on the surface of Mars and not on Earth.

"The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock," says Benner. (Cue eerie music.) That's not all. "Recent studies show that these conditions, suitable for the origin of life, may still exist on Mars," he says. Benner explains that molybdenum can influence how early life begins only when it becomes highly oxidized. "This form of molybdenum couldn't have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because three billion years ago the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did," he says. "It's yet another piece of evidence which makes it more likely life came to Earth on a Martian meteorite, rather than starting on this planet." Ich bin ein Martian. Now read this:

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